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Soltek SL-5200-XD (GeForce FX 5200) Review - Page 4 of 4

OVERCLOCKING

Prior to installing the Soltek SL-5200-XD, I jotted down the serial number (K4D26138E-TC40) from the memory modules, which can provide an indication of the speed they were designed to run. I checked the serial number against the Samsung product line and discovered they were designed to run at 250MHz, not 200MHz. I managed to hit 250MHz in the UT2003 Flyby demo under a heavily memory bandwidth limiting setting - 1024x768 with 4XS antialiasing.

UT2003 Performance
Memory Overclocking

UT2003 Performance - Memory Overclocking

A 25% increase in memory clock speed provided a 15% increase in the Flyby demo results, which appears to be a decent performance boost. In reality, the increased performance when overclocking a budget graphic card probably won't make much of an impact when gaming.

CONCLUSION

So how good is Soltek's SL-5200-XD? Let's start with the GeForce FX 5200. First of all, it's an interesting paradigm shift for any graphics chipset as it breaks the traditional budget cycle once and for all. Instead of being an older chipset that was slightly refreshed, NVIDIA designed a product that fully supports DirectX 9. As a result, widespread shader support by game developers will begin to increase. On ther other hand, the GeForce FX 5200 can be considered as one of the most contradictory pieces of graphics hardware we've recently seen. Sure, you'll be able to run tomorrow's games without compatibility problems, but you'll have to turn down the "eye candy" to a level where you could get similar performance with a GeForce 3 or GeForce 4 MX.

To allow for DirectX 9 support on a budget graphics card, concessions had to be made. With a core clock of 250MHz and memory clocked at 400MHz effective, the GeForce FX 5200 is limited in both departments. However, the GeForce FX 5200 will probably be a hit in the OEM market, who will take note of the "DirectX 9 compliant" label, low price, and superior performance over Intel's Extreme Graphics solutions.

Soltek's SL-5200-XD is a good choice for a desktop PC graphics card where good 2D image quality is needed along with a casual interest in gaming. The graphics card should be matched with a 15-inch or 17-inch monitor since acceptable performance in many games will be restricted to low resolutions, such as 640x480 and 800x600. With TV-out and DVD playback capabilities, the SL-5200-XD can also be used in a home theater based PC. Because the graphics card is small and silent, it should fit in a small form-factor case with no problem. TV-out works well under Linux, so converting an older PC to a Linux HTPC is also an option.

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Last Updated on July 11, 2003

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